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27Jan94 UK: CEMENT IN BIGGEST PRICE RISE IN OVER FOUR YEARS.

Cement producers are introducing their biggest price rise for four years.And industry experts are confident the increased costs will stick as demand grows 2 per cent to about 11 million tonnes.Sector leader Blue Circle Cement was the first to announce a increase: prices of grey bulk and packed Portland cements will rise £2.35 a tonne from March 1.That represents a jump of about 4 per cent with prices varying from £40 to £55 a tonne.Both Rugby and Castle are expected to announce similar increases soon.A Rugby spokesman said: 'We have to accept the facts of life and they are that Blue Circle owns 50 per cent of the market.'We are all playing in the same ball park so we will be announcing our rises imminently.'And it is the same story at Castle where there appears to be no breaking with the cement industry's tradition of making similar rises at similar times.Analyst Robert Donald at NatWest Securities is confident that the increases will not be driven down by buyers playing one firm off against the other.He said: 'Cement prices are likely to rise by 4 per cent in 1994, and most of this will stick.'It is in the interests of the ready-mixed concrete producers, the main users of cement, to have a higher price as this allows them in turn to increases their selling price.' CONSTRUCTION NEWS